Table of contents:
- What is asbestos?
- Is asbestos harmful?
- What’s the difference between licensed and non-licensed asbestos removal?
- What are the common types of asbestos?
- How can I tell if asbestos is present?
- Cladding over asbestos
- Asbestos: Frequently Asked Questions
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was used in a wide range of building materials in the UK throughout the 1950s, up until the 1980s. Materials made from asbestos are typically strong, heat resistant and incombustible. Making it ideal for building materials.
Is asbestos harmful?
Asbestos was banned in 1999 in the UK, due to the fact there were a number of lung-related diseases related to those working with the substance. No amount of exposure is considered safe. Asbestos-related diseases only develop after many years of exposure to it. Now, you may be wondering, can you clad over asbestos? The answer: it depends.
Before we go any further, we must stress that asbestos removal is to be carried out by a fully trained workforce. Under no circumstances should you carry out the removal yourself.
The act of asbestos removal is governed by Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It states that:
- Employees must be properly trained if they are likely to come into contact with asbestos
- Businesses must record and manage any suspect materials present in their premises
- Waste asbestos must be disposed of by licensed carriers
- If you’re responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises, you have a ‘duty to manage’ the asbestos in them, to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes
- The requirements for licensed work remain the same: in the majority of cases, work with asbestos needs to be done by a licensed contractor
- If you are carrying out non-licensed asbestos work, this still requires effective controls
What’s the difference between licensed and non-licensed asbestos removal?
One method of controlling the risk associated with asbestos removal is labelling it either licensed or non-licensed. Licenses can be granted by the HSE.
Non-licensed asbestos removal
Due to the lower associated risks, a license is not needed. However, training is still required.
Examples of non-licensed asbestos removal according to the HSE:
- Cleaning up small quantities of loose/ fine debris containing ACM dust (where the work is sporadic and of low intensity, the control limit will not be exceeded and it is short-duration work)
- Drilling of textured decorative coatings for installation of fixtures/fittings
- Encapsulation and sealing-in work on asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are in good condition
Licensed asbestos removal
Must be performed by a licensed contractor due to the “significant hazard, risk or public concern”
Examples of licensed asbestos removal according to the HSE:
- removing sprayed coatings (limpet asbestos)
- removal or other work which may disturb pipe lagging
- any work involving loose-fill insulation
- work on asbestos millboard
What are the common types of asbestos?
White asbestos (Chrysolite)
This is the most common type of asbestos you’ll encounter. Its fibres are fine in texture and is often contaminated with trace amounts of tremolite.
Brown asbestos (Amosite)
This type of asbestos is considered to be one of the most dangerous. Exposure to it can significantly increase your chances of developing cancer. It is mined mostly in Africa and is commonly used in cement sheets, due to its heat-resistant and strength properties.
Blue asbestos (Crocidolite)
This type of asbestos is incredibly fine and therefore it is one of the most harmful types of asbestos. It can easily become lodged in your lungs and breakdown. Leading to asbestos exposure.
How can I tell if asbestos is present?
Short answer? You can’t. It has no smell or colour. The fibres are about 10x smaller than the width of human hair. The only way to know if asbestos is present is to have it tested by a specialist laboratory.
Cladding over asbestos
Unfortunately, asbestos releases harmful fibres if disturbed and causes harm if it’s inhaled. In certain circumstances, asbestos-containing materials, such as roofs, maybe over clad.
At Roofclad, we strongly recommend not going down this route and replacing the roof instead. Overcladding runs the risk of disturbing the asbestos by drilling into the existing roof. Potentially causing harm to you and anyone else close by. By Overcladding a roof, additional weight will be added to the structure. This would then require an engineer to carry out structural calculations to ensure that the structure is capable of holding the additional weight. Lastly, the height of building will increase, leading to the potential requirement of planning permission from your local authority before proceeding with any work.
Asbestos: Roofclad Systems Case Studies
Jewson Minster, Glasgow – Strip & Re-sheet Built up System
Jewson Minster in Glasgow was experiencing a large amount of water ingress through the old profiled asbestos cement roof and Georgian wired glass over a long period. The original roof & wall had very low thermal value in comparison with today’s standards and a large amount of heat was being lost through the pitched roof and wall cladding. The asbestos cement profiled roof cladding was removed by us and a new built up profiled metal system was installed.
Further reading: Jewson Minster, Glasgow – Strip & Re-sheet Built up System
Volvo Truck & Bus Centre, Blyth – Strip & Re-sheet Roofing & Cladding Works
Similar to Jewson Minister, the Volvo Truck and Bus Centre in Blyth, were faced with an ageing old profiled asbestos cement roof. The asbestos cement profiled roof cladding was removed by ourselves from the roof level. Roofclad provided a new Kingspan profiled roof system, 115mm composite complete with new gutters, external trimline type gutters, and rainwater pipes.
How can we help?
Roofclad Systems are specialists in the removal of non-licensed Asbestos roofing products with a fully trained workforce. Our expertise in working with non-licensed asbestos roofing materials means that you can be assured of the safety, speed, legal and regulatory compliance of any asbestos removal project.
Contact us today to discuss your next commercial roofing project!
Asbestos: Frequently Asked Questions
Can a single exposure to asbestos be harmful?
Light, short-term exposure rarely causes diseases and a one-off exposure to it is not considered a major risk. However, no amount of exposure to asbestos is considered safe and you should always take preventative measures to avoid inhaling toxic dust.
What if I breathed in asbestos?
Asbestos-related diseases typically occur after many years or regular exposure to it. For example, a typical risk factor is if you worked within construction throughout the 1950s to 1980s. However, you should contact your GP if you feel that you have been exposed to asbestos and have developed symptoms such as coughing, feeling short of breath or chest pain.
Where is asbestos found?
- Industrial buildings: Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls, beams and columns, cement water tanks, loose-fill insulation, cement roofs and more.
- Residential buildings: ceiling tiles, bath panels, toilet seats and cisterns, roofing felt, gutters and more.
- For a more exhaustive list of where asbestos can be found, please click here.
How long does asbestos stay in the air if disturbed?
Typically, particles and fibres in the air can be airborne for up to 72 hours. However, due to the small nature of asbestos fibres, the slightest of air movements may cause the fibres to be airborne for longer.
How do you test for asbestos in the air?
Asbestos can be tested by in the air by drawing a volume of air through a filter, for a measured period of time, and then examine it under a microscope. Always seek out a professional to carry out this task.
Can asbestos stick to clothes?
Asbestos fibres are incredibly small. Which means they can easily break into dust and stick to your clothes. If you think your clothes have been contaminated with asbestos, we recommend that you have them cleaned at a specialist facility or dispose of them altogether.